Skip to comments.1979 Catechism Exposed (3) [ECUSA]
Posted on 05/01/2005 5:03:13 PM PDT by sionnsar
The Lords Prayer is the third topic examined in traditional Anglican catechisms. In the 1979 Prayer Book it comes under the heading Prayer and Worship (p. 856). The 1979 catechism defines prayer as responding to God, by thought and by deeds, with or without words. The Book does qualify this definition by instructing the reader in the types of prayer: adoration, praise, thanksgiving, penitence, oblation, intercession and petition. (Note that imprecatory prayer is not listed, although I suspect certain revisionist leaders are presently practicing it!)
The 1979 definition is problematic because is attempts to merge two classical definitions of prayer without taking care to avoid the pitfalls those definitions pose. Let us consider the classical definitions.
One definition of prayer is speaking to God. To avoid a pagan interpretation of this definition, we must qualify it. The Christian understanding of prayer is conversation with the only God who is infinitely wise and good. This qualification is necessary to avoid the notion that we speak to God as we might to another person. It is necessary also because the main difference between Christian prayer and pagan prayer is the Christians confidence that God is a good and trustworthy Father.
Another definition of prayer, attributed to John of Damascus (mid 8th century) is: the raising of the soul to God. Scripture speaks of prayer in this way. In Matthew 6:33, following his prayer to Our Father, Jesus tells his disciples to set their hearts on the Kingdom. 1 Samuel 1:15 talks of pouring out the soul before God. We note that ECUSAs definition does not mention the soul, nor does it obviously entail confidence in God as the only wise and infinitely good Father.
Following ECUSAs definition, one could pray while doing good deeds, thinking good thoughts, doing Yoga in the park, or transcendental meditation in a community center. This notion of prayer is far from Jesus intentional and disciplined life of prayer. The Gospels tell us that he often withdrew to isolated places to pray in solitude. Further, he taught his disciples to pray without public display though the Jewish practice was to pray aloud in public.
Reading the 1979 Catechism, one gets the impression that the drafters relied more on their ideas about prayer than on the churchs tradition or the teaching of Scripture. This impression is strengthened when one reads that the Lords Prayer is an example of prayer so that the Prayer itself is less important than the example it provides. This has led to different versions, including feminist versions that address God as Our Mother. If the Lords Prayer serves merely as a template for Christian prayer than we are permitted to substitute our own words as long as we follow the pattern. This is why Orthodoxy maintains that the Lords Prayer is not an example of how we should pray, but rather the prayer our Lord gave us to pray. It is a precious inheritance from Him, and unique.
Jesus distinguishes his prayer from that of others. The Disciples asked Him to teach them to pray. These Jews knew how to pray in the synagogues. The fact that they asked, suggests that they recognized a difference between their prayers and Jesus prayers. The difference is Jesus unique intimacy with the Father. The Disciples recognized this intimacy, and by learning to pray as Jesus prayed, they hoped to share it. The astonishing thing is Jesus willingness to share this intimacy by allowing us to address his heavenly Father as our Father.
The Baltimore Catechism says, "Prayer is lifting up the heart and mind to God."
Throw out the old 1979 Cathechism as it was obviously watered down as well as the 1983 canon to satisfy the liberal post vatican II church. I rely on the old Baltimore Catechism for my guidance and salvation
We like the Baltimore Catechism. It's very useful to have a clear definition of terms.
It's not clear, but I don't think the author is talking about the Catechism of the Catholic Church, but an Anglican catechism from 1979.
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